This post is part of a spontaneous interview series I’m throwing together this week. The goal is to share personal accounts from people doing compulsory home quarantine in Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hi Veronica, congratulations on finishing home quarantine! Where did you fly back from and how was the trip? We flew from northern Spain via Istanbul on March 12. My husband flew from the United States. The trip was smooth. I was surprised by two things: almost no health control until we arrived in Taipei, and I was really surprised by the fact that both flights (Spain-Istanbul and Istanbul-Taipei) were full. We were placed in self-management, although we decided to maintain home quarantine after my daughter and I arrived. 

What was the tipping point that made you decide to fly back to Taipei? We are Spanish but we live here, this is our home. We were supposed to arrive on February 13 but our flight got cancelled. The only option was to wait until March 11 to come back. We came just before all the situation deteriorated in Spain. It’s been really hard to be away from our family, not knowing how this is going to end in Spain. Our quarantine finished on Friday, March 27.

How long have you been living in Taiwan? We were living in China before we decided to move to Taiwan in 2018. My husband has been a professor at National Taiwan University here in Taipei for two years. We had friends here so we knew about the culture, how easygoing it is for kids, the natural wonders of the island and how kind and welcoming Taiwanese are. So, when the opportunity arrived to move here, we didn’t hesitate to move. 

Where did you stay for quarantine? We were in our apartment. We were under self-management when we arrived, but after the situation changed they placed us under quarantine. We had to restart the process from self-management to quarantine. Our daughter’s kindergarten and my husband’s university emailed us to confirm that our situation had changed and that we needed to be placed under quarantine. The university contacted CDC and the District Office for us. Two days later, the CDC hadn’t confirmed our “official” quarantine, so we decided (with a friend’s help) to call the District Office and after that they contacted us daily. Some days they called us once, some days twice. Since my Mandarin is very basic, they always found someone to talk to us in English. They have services to help with garbage disposal, food, etc. but we didn’t need them at that point, mostly because our quarantine period was almost over, so we decided not to burden the system more than necessary. 

How did your family keep busy? When we arrived from Spain we were fighting jetlag, so the first days we were just trying to survive this with our daughter. We had a routine in which everyday we had some study time, reading time, exercise time and relax time. We called our families back in Spain every day too, so this helped us have some social life and check that they were doing okay. As for our daughter, we arranged different activities like painting and reading. We tried to be on our small terrace as much as possible. This ended up being a lovely time for our daughter as she kept telling us how much she enjoyed being with us all the time. So I think this was actually a quite positive experience for us as a family!

Was there been anything that was surprising about the process of getting set up for home quarantine? Yes, how unprepared we are for this kind of situation. As we didn’t come strictly under quarantine, we didn’t have help from the local government to get groceries and buy our essentials. I am still surprised by how our friends quickly mobilized to help us. All our friends here were willing to help with groceries. Even before we arrived a friend bought groceries for us just in case we were placed under quarantine! Our building manager also asked if our kid had some comfort food for this time. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Yes, under these circumstances, if we would like people to be under quarantine, we shouldn’t overwhelm the system for grocery store delivery as there are many people in home quarantine, also the elderly and disabled, who rely on this for their daily essentials.

Thanks Veronica!

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